Wow, 2014 was the worst reported year to-date for rhino poaching. A whopping 1,215 rhinos were poached in South Africa alone. That equates to 1 rhino illegally killed every 8 hours. Back in 2007, just 13 rhinos were poached for their horns, but since then a total of 3,886 rhinos have been slaughtered in South Africa, an increase of over 9,300%. If the poaching continues at this rate, our rhinos will be extinct by 2026 – just 10 years time.
You might ask why such an increase? Rhinos are slaughtered for their horns by ruthless criminal syndicates. The horns are mainly trafficked to Asia, where they fetch huge prices on the illegal black market. The demand for rhino horn has soared over recent years, especially in Vietnam, which has been identified as the largest user country of rhino horn. Although rhino horn has no scientific medical benefits, consumers believe it treats a wide range of conditions, from cancer to hangovers, and due to its high value it is now also used as a status symbol by wealthy individuals.
So what can be done to save these dear creatures? The number of arrests is up, however nearly all of these arrests in 2014 (374 individuals) were ‘level one’; the poachers on the ground who are easily replaced by those orchestrating the poaching syndicates. The South African government has many other initiatives in place, including rhino trans-locations, which involves moving rhino from areas in South Africa where they are under threat, to more secure locations. During the last quarter of 2014, 56 rhinos were moved out of poaching hotspots in Kruger National Park to an Intensive Protection Zone (IPZ) and other more secure areas. In addition, approximately 100 rhinos have been trans-located to neighboring States through both private partnerships and government initiatives. It is reported that none of the monitored animals moved to the IPZ have been poached and further rhino trans-locations are planned for 2015.
Every donation we make to this effort helps. We don’t want to lose our rhinos…. do you?
(source: Save the Rhino RhiNews, January 2015)